Drama between the All Progressives Congress, APC and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP senators yesterday enveloped the screening of former Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi on the floor of the Senate after three postponements.
The upper legislative chamber also screened four other ministerial nominees, namely; Heineken Lokpobiri from Bayelsa State, Professor Cladius Omoleye Daramola from Ondo State, Baba Shehuri Mustapha, Borno, and Barrister James Enojo Ocholi from Kogi State but without yet confirming their appointments.
Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio on behalf of the entire PDP senators, kicked against his screening on the grounds of non consideration of reports on petition written against him by the senate.
Akpabio, who raised Order 43 of the senate rules to raise the PDP senators’ objection to Amaechi’s screening by the senate said since report on investigations carried out on petitions written against Amaechi’s nomination by the Integrity Group from Rivers State has only been laid by the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions and not yet treated by the senate, screening Amaechi would be procedurally wrong.
“Mr President , I rise on this Order to submit on behalf of the PDP senators that screening the nominee (Amaechi ) before us now , would be procedurally wrong, without considering and taking position on report over petition written against his nomination by concerned petitioners from Rivers State , and I wish to add that those of us on this side (PDP Senators) will not participate in the screening by way of asking him any question if this senate goes ahead with the exercise now”, he said.
But the Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume (APC Borno South) in a counter argument said non consideration of the report could not in any way stop the senate from carrying out confirmation hearing exercise on Amaechi since the time for confirmation proper has not come.
Ndume who came through Order 53(9) of the senate standing rules asked the senate to give Amaechi a ‘bow and go’ treatment since the PDP senators had decided not to participate in his screening to which other APC senators shouted yes!
He however ran into trouble waters while arguing further in favour of Amaechi’s screening when he referred to the PDP senators as “you people” which triggered spontaneous attacks on him by the PDP senators , asking him to retract the statement immediately.
Even after being saved by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki who said he had retracted the statement, the PDP leader in the senate, Godswill Akpabio still called for his apology over the statement.
The tension was however doused by the senate President through its ruling on the two different points of orders raised, by appealing to the APC senators to jettison the idea of take a bow and go for Amaechi while the PDP Senators’ position was noted.
He said: “Distinguished senators, the arguments made on the two different points of order raised by both the Minority and Majority Leaders are noted but my appeal to us for now is that we should jettison the idea of take a bow and go for the nominee before us in line with modalities set out by us before the screening exercise began”.
Thereafter, Senators, upon the ruling of the senate president, fired many questions , many of which were partisan, to Amaechi as part of his screening exercise.
On how as the Director General of Buhari/Osinbajo Presidential Campaign organization , succeeded in kicking out an incumbent president out of power, he said the issue of corruption against the previous government was the singular weapon used in sending Jonathan out of power.
“We sold to the public the fact that there was massive corruption in the system. And there was the need to fight that corruption. And the only way to fight that corruption is to put a new government. And we had to get a signpost candidate.
“The signpost candidate is a man who the Nigerian public has seen as an incorruptible president. And that was why the party had to put President Buhari forward. And we thought that there was a need to do things differently.
“I thought that as good as the former President may have been, I don’t think he was suitable enough for the growth and development of Nigeria. So, we need to offer opportunity to somebody we believe is better than the former President”, Amaechi stressed
When asked to define corruption by his own understanding as a man who has been in governance since 1999, he said corruption is a very wide concept that has no definite definition.
According to him, “Corruption is very difficult to define. If you are a public officer and you don’t take bribe you are not corrupt but if you have taken bribe, you are corrupt. He vouched that he has not taken bribe in his life either as a public officer or in private capacity, saying “I’ve never taken bribe in my life but if they send a girl to you and you sleep with the girl and do her favour, you are corrupt”.
“Corruption is a very wide concept. If people are contesting for a position and you offer your son, brother or sister an opportunity to hold that position, probably the person is not qualified, you are corrupt. So, it is difficult for me to define corruption”, he said.
Senate should increase budget for water – Lokpobiri
Senator Heineken Lokpobir has urged the Senate to always use its constitutional power in increasing the budget of the Ministry of Water Resources for adequate water provision in the country.
He lamented that many Nigerians found it difficult to get water for drinking and domestic purposes.
“As the chairman of the Senate Committee on Water Resources, I noticed that the major challenge we had was funding. The Senate should ensure that the budget for water is increased.
“Senate President Sir, Distinguished Senators, this has become very important so that water will be available for people to drink”, the two term senator from Bayelsa West District said.
Lokpobiri also lamented environmental degradation in the country, saying the reason he wrote a book on environment was due to his observation of lacuna in environmental rights of Nigerians.
He therefore urged the government, individuals and groups to always respect people’s rights on environmental issues.
LG autonomy vital for grassroots dev – Mustapha
Ministerial nominee from Borno State, Alhaji Baba Shehuri Mustapha yesterday clamored for local government autonomy, saying it was vital to grassroots development in the country.
Mustapha, a grassroots politician maintained that the local government should be given the opportunity to have control over the funds to it for proper development.
He said, “Money meant for local governments are always hijacked and usually not use to serve the purpose for which it was meant”.
The former member of the House of Representatives, in a veiled speech against the activities of state governors on local government funds, urged the senate to save the third tier of government from continued underdevelopment.
We need supervision in schools – Daramola
Professor Claudius Ayodeji Daramola, a ministerial nominee from Ondo State yesterday stressed the need for the government to return supervisors to monitor the activities and performance of every public schools in the country.
He also urged cooperation between parents and schools authorities to check students from joining cultism to save their future from being ruined and untimely death.
“What we have in the universities today is a spillover from the society. Anything happening in the society will replicate itself in the universities. When the values in the society are at variance with what exists in the schools, the child will be disorganised. That is why we need the co-operation of the parents.
“We need supervision in our schools. One of the challenges facing our institutions is lack of supervision. If we put measures in place to supervise the schools, education will improve one way or the other.
“We have to be careful the way the schools are organised. In the 50s and 60s, teachers were taught to be catechists, interpreters and clerks. But today, because our curriculum is dynamic, it also affects our educational system.
“Teachers are not paid four months, nine months, one year salaries and we expect them to give their best. We need to train and retrain teachers and pay them regularly.
“Those days, we had civic and history. Only recently, civic has been reintroduced in schools. History needs to be reintroduced. Those days, we were taught about Mary Slessor. History needs to be brought back to schools. Our children need to know the history of our heroes and heroines”, he stressed.
There is need for prisons reformation – Ocholi
A ministerial nominee from Kogi State, James Enojo Ocholi, SAN, yesterday said “There is the need to bring about reformation in the prisons”.
“Prisons need to be improved upon. Investigation of crimes needs to be thoroughly pursued. Investigation should take time. It’s more costly than prosecution because you can travel far during investigation.
“After investigation, the next stage is the arrest of the accused person. Then, you can confront him with the result of the investigation. He will know that you have the facts about him.
“Prosecution should not take delight in bail. Putting indigent persons in prison creates problems for the accused. They can’t go to school. Major parts of their lives are wasted. When they are coming out of prison 14, 15 years later, they have to start all over again”.

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